Defence argues charter breach in Gentles trial

Lawyers for both sides in the Martin Gentles case argued for hours this week whether or not the accused’s charter rights were upheld.

Lawyers for both sides in the Martin Gentles case argued for hours this week whether or not the accused’s charter rights were upheld during his arrest following a fatal collision April 22, 2012.

On trial at B.C. Supreme Court in Williams Lake this week, Gentles, 30, faces several charges including dangerous driving in the early hours causing the death of 20-year-old Rayel MacDonald, dangerous driving causing bodily harm to Alysha Mullet, impaired driving and failing to stop at an accident involving persons.

Defence lawyer Ken Walker referenced testimony provided by Const. James MacKinnon, who told the court he administered an Assisted Screening Device (ASD) to read Gentle’s blood alcohol content after arresting him.

Walker argued Gentle’s charter rights were compromised because the RCMP continued to investigate the incident after arresting him.

Walker said an officer doesn’t have the right to take incriminating evidence from an accused until the accused has had the right to counsel after an arrest.

“You can’t say things like ‘have you had anything to drink tonight?’” Walker told the court. “That’s not permitted anymore because you’ve arrested him.”

Countering Crown Counsel lawyer Julie Dufour told the court Gentles did not spontaneously say anything about consumption of alcohol until after he had been arrested.

“That is when, and only when, Const. MacKinnon could ever have had, not only a subjective suspicion but a reasonable one to make the ASD demand,” Dufour argued.

The trial, which began Dec. 1, continued Monday and Tuesday afternoon and will resume on Monday, Dec. 8.